Thursday, September 28, 2017

Just for the "F" of It #11

Time to show off another card I picked up just for the fun of it.  Today's card is a great looking card of 2017 Hall of Famer Tim Raines.

My Hall of Fame collection primarily consists of autographed cards, especially of the modern players and I do have an autograph of Raines in my collection.  However, when I saw this card pop up on Sportslots in an auction I had to bid and ended up bringing it home for $4.

This 2005 SP Legendary Cuts Glory Days set is one of my favorites.  I have contemplated trying to build either the insert set or base relic set several times.  It is a checklist that is 50 deep and it is a dozen years old so it would be quite an undertaking.  I really like the design with the color photo and sepia tones to the card.  This Raines card is great looking with the Expos uni and great looking blue jersey swatch.

Have you ever gone through with trying to put together a relic set?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Basketball Book Review - Tall Tales and Short Shorts

I believe this is my first book review of a basketball book.  Most of my sports reading focuses on baseball books but I saw Tall Tales and Short Shorts - Dr. J, Pistol Pete & The Birth of the Modern NBA by Adam J. Criblez on the new release shelf at my local library and decided to pick it up.  I am very glad I did.

This book tells the story of the NBA during the decade of the 1970s.  This is an era, outside of what I learned in Bill Simmons, The Book of Basketball that I knew very little about.  I was born in the early 70s and never paid attention to the NBA until the Kansas City Kings relocated to Sacramento in 1985.  In addition to Simmons' book, my other basketball reading has consisted of a book about Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, a couple books about Charles Barkley and that's about it.  These were all in my 1980s-1990s basketball wheelhouse.

This book has a chapter about each season starting with the 1969-1970 season.  Each chapter talks through the regular season of each team in the NBA.  Some only a paragraph, others maybe 2-3 but each team got a little love and the author shared who some of their top players were, news about the team, how they fared during the regular season and at times intertwined a few social items that were going on outside of basketball that either paralleled the NBA or gave some insight into how America operated at the time.

Each chapter would then go into some detail about all the playoff series match-ups.  Almost every game got at least a brief mention with some of the more memorable games having quite a bit of depth to the story.  Rightfully so, the NBA finals got the most coverage with quite a few details about the star players, how the series unfolded and who the eventual champ was.  These chapters ended with a full listing of the year's standings, a list of each playoff series with results, the All NBA first and second teams, the league leaders in key statistical categories and finally the NBA MVP and Rookie of the year winners.

There were also 3 other chapters interspersed that shared some details on key figures and turning points in the league.  The first talked about Pete Maravich and the second Julius Erving.  Each player was covered in some depth from their childhood upbringing through their college careers.  These chapters really gave some good insight into how they were shaped as players and what they brought to the league.  The final chapter was about the ABA and NBA merger.  The ABA was referenced a little during some of the season chapters but this chapter went into the formation of the league and the journey that the ABA went through that ultimately led to the merger.   There is a final chapter that talks about some of the key players and teams in the 1980s and 90s.

I really enjoyed this book and learned a ton.  There were star players in the 1970s that I had never heard of.  We all have heard of Wilt and Dr. J and Pistol Pete and Kareem.  There are tons of other well know players as well.  However, the All NBA teams were littered with players I had never really heard about.  I felt like the amount of information in the book was just the right amount. There are several story lines that could support an entire book on their own but I got just enough out of the book to understand how the NBA was in the 1970s and gain a greater appreciation.

If you are a sports fan and someone who likes basketball I think this would be an enjoyable read.  I am not the passionate fan I was in the late 80s and 90s but I still follow the sport on the periphery.  Even at that level of fandom, I found myself really appreciating this book.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Complete Set Showcase - 1993 Topps Commanders of the Hill

I have been slowly working my way forward on completing Topps insert sets throughout the 90s and early 2000s.  Originally I thought this set fit in with that quest when I picked up the Bill Swift card for my Giants collection but this was a stand alone set.

I saw this complete set pop up on Sportlots as an auction and was able to pick it up for just a few dollars.  Here is a summary of the set as found on
This 30-card standard-size set issued by Topps features pitchers of the American and National Leagues. The cards were available for an additional 25 cents per pack with the purchase of a fountain coke at military installation snack bars and food courts only, through the PX/BX. Each pack contained five cards.
Pretty cool, a military release.  I wasn't aware of any military only releases outside of the 1991 Topps Desert Shield parallels.  I scanned the entire 30-card set and examples of two of the backs.  The set showcases each leagues Cy Young winner, Strikeout leader and then each team's ERA leader.  I found the set pretty cool as it reminded me of a few fairly solid pitchers like Charles Nagy, Bill Gullickson, and Pete Harnisch that I really hadn't given much thought to since they pitched in the MLB.

I will share the entire set without commentary until the end:

The cards have a nice camo design along the bottom and two side borders.  I find it interesting that the three borders are all different widths.  The team name goes vertically along the left side which makes sense as this is primarily a team leaders set.  There is a small banner in the top left showing the city name and a bigger banner near the bottom with the player name and their team leader or league leader designation.  The set name is in the bottom right corner with a baseball in the middle of the logo.  I find it interesting that the Topps name doesn't appear anywhere on the card front.  Overall I think this is a fun design, I like the look and it is pretty unique and fits in well with the military release with the camo.

Here are the two different types of card backs.  The Smoltz card on the top is how the Cy Young and Strikeout Leaders looks.  Just a nice little write-up with some highlights of the season.  The team leader cards show a small recap of each of the pitchers starts.  I really like this display and wouldn't mind seeing it on other pitcher card backs.  There is a joint Coca-Cola/MLB logo in the bottom right along with a Players Association logo.  The only notation of Topps is in the fine print with the copyright info in the bottom left.

I am really happy I picked up this set even though it wasn't the insert set I thought it was.  It brought back a lot of memories of some good pitchers from the 90s in a nice solid design.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Baseball Book Review - Teammate by David Ross

I haven't done a Baseball Book Review in quite a while.  I know I have read a few baseball books but never took the plunge and posted a review.

Today I thought I would share some thoughts about Teammate - My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages by David Ross.  I heard about this book on a podcast and decided to check the local library and was lucky enough to find it.  

I have to admit that I didn't know much about Ross until his final season with the Cubs and actually became a fan watching his journey on Dancing with the Stars (I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that I have watched a couple seasons of the show)

Teammate: My Journey in Baseball and a World Series for the Ages
Image taken from online retailer as I returned the book to the library

This was a solid baseball book.  He follows the 2016 Cubs season and sprinkles in anecdotes from earlier in his life and career.  He talks about how he wasn't always a good teammate but got some direct and somewhat harsh feedback that made him rethink who he was and adjust his approach to life and baseball.  I am a fan of that message.  In my job I have gotten some pretty direct feedback a couple of times and dished it out several times more.  I look at feedback as a gift and it is all about how you take it and what you do with it.  I have been fortunate enough to do well with getting this kind of feedback as did Ross.  Can't say everyone I have dished it out to has reacted the same.

There is some sharing of lessons learned and giving advice but not to the point it was preachy.  I am glad about that as that would have turned me off.  The best aspect of this book is hearing some of the baseball stories Ross has to share and learning a little bit about the inter workings of a baseball team. I have gotten that from other books as well but always appreciate a new perspective.

I also enjoyed the fact that I didn't have to be a Cubs fan to appreciate the book, while he is a fan of the organization and appreciative of how he was treated (especially during his final year), it isn't an over the top Cubs love fest.

If you want a pretty quick read with some good stories and insight into the baseball world, I would definitely give this a read.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Topps Proves It Sucks Once Again

Back in 2011 I bought a Topps Redemption for a dual Buster Posey and Neftali Feliz card for about $20.  It has been sitting in my account unfulfilled until a couple days ago.  I got a Fed Ex package from Topps, opened up the package and got this:

How can a relic card of a guy they continue to produce not be made and fulfilled?  Isn't Posey one of their guys?

I called Topps to complain.  The guy says the fulfill redemptions that aren't produced looking at Beckett value.  While he is on the phone I look up the Beckett values.  The Posey/Feliz card goes for $50. The Boesch card $12 and the "bonus" Phillips card for $6.  He puts me on hold for over 10 minutes.

He comes back on saying he checked eBay prices and the replacement was accurate as Posey relics go for under $10 and the card I got has an autograph.  I explain that Boesch hasn't played in the majors since 2015 and that only one of his autos has sold in the last 6 months (A Triple Threads /10 for $8) because he sucks and nobody wants his cards.  I doubt I could give it away.  My bonus card is of a prospect who can't even crack the Brewers Top 10 list.

He apologizes about 10 times, I tell him that does me no good.  I ask why they didn't reach out to me to ask who my teams are, he says they only ask what you want when you request a replacement, not when they arbitrarily decide to send you something.  Isn't that idiotic?

He says the only thing he can do is send me a care package with 2-3 packs.  Anyone want to bet what I get?  My guess is 1 pack of Opening Day, 1 pack of Series 2 retail and one pack of Stickers.

Not a happy consumer.

Friday, September 15, 2017

2017 Has Been A Giant Disappointment

This year my blog posting has been less Giants centered than ever before.  The team started off bad and just got worse.  I was very encouraged coming into the season they just laid an egg over and over again to where they are fighting it out for the worst record in baseball.  I bought the MLB package and haven't watched a full game since June - why put myself through the heartache.  I have been through many bleak years as a Giants fan and I will bounce back from this one as well.

I do continue to collect Giants cards.  My focus this year has been primarily on the base, some inserts and a couple of the more plentiful parallel sets.  I have plugged a few holes in back years as well but I have to admit that more of my attention has gone towards set building and player collections.  I did find a nice lot of Giants cards that I picked on on eBay a few weeks back that I thought I would share.

First up is a pair of Giants base cards from 2017 Museum Collection.  These were the only 2 Giants featured in the base set.  No legends, no MadBum, just Posey and Pence.  The Giants were fairly poorly represented in most of the releases this year which makes me think Topps knew something I didn't know coming into the season.  At least it makes it easier to pick up team sets of the base cards.

Next up is this auto of former Giants prospect, Phil Bickford.  Bickford was traded to the Brewers along with catching prospect Andrew Susac for relief pitcher Will Smith. Smith got hurt and didn't play this year, the first sign of a bad luck 2017.  Bickford was suspended for 50 games to start the season for recreational drug use, probably not a bad thing he is gone from the Giants.  This was the only card I already had from this lot.

This manu-relic of Buster Posey is nice.  I really enjoy the design and this was the card I was actually looking for on eBay when I ran across the lot.  The American Flag MLB logo is sweet and I have warmed up to the presence of manu-relics in the hobby, this one was a much have.

While there were only 2 Giants in the Museum Collection base set, other players appear on the hits.  Disappointing first baseman Brandon Belt is featured here on a triple relic auto card numbered /199.  I typically enter each season thinking Belt will break out then end the year in disappointment.  I wouldn't be shocked if he is gone to start next season.

The final card is this quad relic with a sweet patch of Johnny Cueto.  I thought at the beginning of 2017 that there was no way he would return to the Giants in 2018.  He was coming off a Cy Young caliber season and has an opt out clause at the end of this year.  A fairly poor season along with some blister problems make it highly likely he will opt in for the remainder of his contract and stay with the Giants.  I think I am okay with that, we need a bounce back from him and a bunch of other players to compete next year.

I need to do some more searching for lots like this, these were some solid additions to my collection.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Missing My Old LCS

In July, my family and I took a trip back to Southern California to visit some family and friends and beach time.  Being in the center of the country is pretty nice but having never been more than 2 hours from the beach my entire life, the sand and surf was a definite need.

Another need was a visit to my South Orange County former LCS, MVP Sports Cards.  In my decade plus in South OC, I built up a strong friendship with the husband and wife owner team and was looking forward to the visit and hoped I might be lucky enough to find a few cards to add to my collection.  I was able to accomplish both.

They had helped me immensely on my 1970 set build and the first thing I asked to see was the 1972 Topps box.  I am down to needing cards from mostly the final 2 series and I was able to knock off 24 cards from my want list at a pretty reasonable price.  This is the biggest chunk of the higher series I have been able to knock off at one time.

Not a ton of star power but a few well known names to go with this Expos team card.  Sorry for the upside down In Action card, I am usually not that sloppy.

Some cool photography in this grouping, with a nice bat barrel on the Reese card, a great posed shot with awesome A's uniform on the Bando card and quite a few cool spring training backgrounds.

I nice final grouping of high numbers with some good backgrounds, nice A's unis and a pair of rookie (non) stars.

Next up they pulled up their eBay page and I did a quick search for Giants.  I was able to pick up this nice looking 1951 Bowman Bill Rigney card that I needed for my team set.  Not a grading expert but this looks better than a 5 to me.

I am not a massive collector of graded cards but a few years back a guy brought in 2 big boxes of Reggie Bush graded rookie cards he had invested in during 2006.  Most were PSA 10s with a couple 9s mixed in.  I decided to pick out 4 cards and built a nice Reggie PSA 10 rookie collection for $15.  The owner said he picked them up for $3-7 each, imagine the loss the original guy took on these.

The final two purchases came from a large box of Star and HOF autos they pulled out.  I had never seen this Orlando Cepeda card and really like the design, photo and inscription so I pulled the trigger.

And the final card is a big one for me, a brand new Willie McCovey auto numbered 17/25.  I had the other version /45 already in my collection but this one was new. I am very glad to have want lists on my blog page as I wasn't quite sure if this was a card I had or not.  Now it resides nicely in my Volume 3 (of 4) McCovey binder with the other cards from around 2007.

I spied a couple other cards I really wanted to get but wasn't ready to spend that much as my vacation wasn't cheap.  I plan on reaching out in the next month or two to see if the cards I had my eye on are still around.  MVP Sportscards has been my favorite LCS by far and I was glad to get back for a visit.